Dinah Hawken

ANZL Member

Photo credit: Jenny Siaosi

Born in Hawera in 1943, Dinah Hawken is one of New Zealand’s most critically acclaimed poets. Of her nine collections of poetry, four have been finalists for the New Zealand Book Awards. Her first book, It has no Sound & is Blue (1987), won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Time Published Poet. Her collections are evocative and original and are influenced by the natural world, women’s experience, spirituality and social justice. Her work has been described as ‘at once meditative and resolute.’ In addition to poetry, a number of her publications feature letters and prose. A reviewer of her most recent collection, Ocean and Stone (2015), has said that ‘few writers have the skill to return to the land and the sea with such originality and genuine knowing …the experience of reading Hawken is to be lulled and then shocked awake’. In 2007, Dinah was named the winner of the biennial Lauris Edmond Award for Distinguished Contribution to Poetry in New Zealand.

A trained physiotherapist, counsellor and social worker, Dinah wrote her first collection in New York while studying for her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Brooklyn College and also working with people who were homeless and mentally ill. Dinah also worked for several years at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, convening a course called ‘Writing the Landscape.’  In 2008 she was commissioned by Chamber Music New Zealand to write seven poems for a New Zealand performance of Haydn’s ‘Seven last words from the cross’.

The poems in Dinah’s latest work Sea-light illuminate the forces – personal, ecological and political – that are re-forming our lives. They light upon small details in their search for peace and connection in an unsettled world. And they are always open to what the sea, in its persistent breaking and reconvening, can teach us.

Dinah lives in Paekakariki on the Kapiti Coast.



Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page

NZ Electronic Poetry Centre poet page

Victoria University Press author page

Holloway Press author page

Sydney Review of Books review of There is No Harbour (Nov, 2019)

takahē review of Ocean and Stone (April, 2016)

New releases by Dinah Hawken

Sea-light (poetry)

Published by Victoria University Press on August 12, 2021

Bibliography: Dinah Hawken



Sea-Light (Victoria UP, 2021)

There Is No Harbour (Victoria UP, 2019)

Ocean and Stone (Victoria UP, 2015)

The Leaf Ride (Victoria UP, 2012)

One Shapely Thing (Victoria UP, 2006)

Oh There You Are Tui! (Victoria UP, 2001)

Where We Say We Are: Letters, Postcards, Poems ([with Marianne Ackerman, Ken Bolton, Valerie Hunton, Richard Mansfield and Yukie Sugiyama]Wellington: Whitireia Publishing, 2000)

Water, Leaves, Stones (Victoria UP, 1995)

Small Stories of Devotion (Victoria UP, 1991, UK edn 1995)

It Has No Sound and Is Blue (Victoria UP, 1987)



The Little Book of Bitching (Sport 21, 1998)



Shards of Silver (Steele Roberts, 2006)

'NZ literature is such a vast and varied thing' - Pip Adam

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